For an office to be efficient and successful, there has to be a willingness between employees, especially from various departments, to work together. They finish their work ahead of time, they gain better insight from the situation at hand, and they create innovative solutions.
However, when you have a team composed of different people from different age groups and different backgrounds, how can you encourage cross-functional collaboration?
Provide Opportunities to Connect
For people to trust one another, they have to get to know each other. No, they do not have to be best friends to work together but each member of your team should have time to get to know one another.
Start by hosting a social event where they can have a chat and rub elbows with people outside of the respective departments. You can host games to encourage some friendly competition. Your goal is to create a way for your employees to interact and bond outside of doing their professional responsibilities.
If you have remote workers, find ways to involve them, too. When you have meetings, for example, have a video conference so that your team can see the faces behind the names and feel like they are working in the same room together.
It might also help to provide access to everyone’s contact information and instant-messaging tools for ease of communication.
Clarify Roles and Responsibilities
Creating a friendly atmosphere at the office alone will not be sufficient. Your employees should also be aware of what each one of them contributes to the company.
When you have multiple people from different departments working on a project, it might be confusing to know who to approach to ask for help or to assign a task. There might be two or more people who can fuse their similar or compatible ideas or skills to finish a task faster or to develop a unique solution to a crisis. However, because the roles and responsibilities of their co-workers were not made clear from the very beginning, there was a missed opportunity to cooperate.
Set Common Processes
It is hard to work with other people because everyone likely already has their own methods. Often, this results in contrasting outputs or timelines that places the entire project in jeopardy. It is up for the leaders to communicate with the team and develop a streamlined process that works for everyone.
Start by using the same tools. An online application like Trello, which is designed for collaboration, will make it easier for your employees to share their progress so that the team could respond accordingly.
Identify One Purpose
There should always be transparency at the office. Upper management should always be open, especially in sharing the company’s goals to their employees.
Having a common purpose is one way to encourage people to work together. Throwing people together and telling them to collaborate alone will not produce favorable results. It will only create conflict and frustrations which will not bode well for productivity and the success of the project. There should be a specific desired outcome that is measurable, realistic, and attainable within a given timeframe. Create both short- and long-term goals and celebrate each one to maintain momentum and keep everyone inspired to work harder.
Pushing people from different departments to work together has numerous benefits. However, remember that it cannot solve every problem nor is it suitable for all offices.